Cheering fans holding signPhoto Credit: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock
Every Saturday and Sunday during football season, legends take the field all over the country. And I don’t mean Brady, Rodgers, etc. I mean the omnivorous lunatics who create festive shantytowns outside of their stadiums. These pioneers are the legends of tailgating. After careful consideration, the list below features some of the best and most notorious tailgaters around.
[Editor’s Note: And then there were nine. One of our original entries has been removed by request… hence the top 10 list with nine entries. Not that we’re counting or anything.]
9. Dan “DJ Dano” Ortel
Dan Ortel’s Pantherfanz (which is not a German cologne) welcome tons of fans every week, including team President Danny Morrison, chef Bobby Flay, fans from the Canadian chapter, and even 250+ Ravens fans. For the Panthers.
Atlanta Falcons tailgating (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
8. Tom Dunn
How do you define the word “fanatic”? Would it be customizing an old ambulance with Falcons decorations? Or being disappointed because your original plan was to purchase a hearse complete with a coffin featuring opposing players? Ladies and gentlemen: Tom Dunn.
7. Brad Sufficool
Brad Sufficool is leader of the USF Bulls Tailgating Association. Now, he already gets points for forming when the Bulls were 1-AA. But Brad, whose tailgates are sponsored by local businesses, puts on a 24-hour tailgate before the final game. Also, his name is Brad Sufficool. Brad. Sufficool.
6. Dominic Giammarinaro
Dominic Giammarinaro hosts some great tailgates during Chargers games. Here, you can enjoy “Iron Tailgater” battles or cocktail contests, or the yearly “Taco Guy Day” when he invites a taco guy up from Tijuana to serve tacos. WHY ISN’T THIS A HOLIDAY? WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN.
San Diego Chargers tailgating (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
5. Matthew Connor
We’ve all traveled for a tailgate before. But only Matthew Connor travels 5,000 miles to every home game. That’s because he lives in Zurich. And he flies to Boulder. For every Colorado Buffaloes football game. I don’t— we don’t need any more details, right? That’s enough.
4. Tron Nation
Ok. So, robots + TRON + Virginia Tech tailgates + stilts + nightmares = this. You guys. I am so impressed by this.
Ken Johnson “Pinto Ron” (Photo Credit: Suzanne Perry)
3. Ken Johnson
Ken Johnson grills his food on the hood of a 1980s Ford Pinto before Bills games. He cooks burgers on a saw, hot dogs on a rake, and wings in an army helmet. And he serves shots from a bowling ball. When he’s not tailgating, he and the rest of Fat Albert’s crew make awesome junkyard music.
2. Joe Cahn
Joe Cahn is the “Commissioner of Tailgating” — a man who quit his job and now attends tailgates all year long. How important is he to tailgating? Go ahead and Google anything having to do with tailgating culture or history, and try to find a single article in which his name isn’t mentioned.
Joe Cahn, The Commissioner of Tailgating (Photo Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Bing)
1. Angela Pisani
Angela Pisani is tailgating’s most important person. She invented it. The wife of the Dodgers’ team doctor, Angela served sandwiches out of the back of her car after a game one day. “What are you doing?” asked a passerby. Angela responded: “Having a party. Out of the tailgate of my car.” And then the passerby responded — “…mother of God.” And that’s how tailgating was born.
Pay attention, team. These are the legends of tailgating so far. So get to work and see if you can’t crack next year’s list. In the meantime, study the greats and bring their lessons home.